15 Ways To Know You Might Be From A Big Family

I come from a large family. My grandparents were not only very much in love, they were good Catholics, which everyone knows is a recipe for a bunch of kids. In this case, they produced nine children who went on to have children of their own. We grandkids are now breeding, and our family just keeps growing.

As a child, I didn’t realize that not everyone had 24 first cousins on one side, or that in some families there was enough seating for even the kids to have a spot on the couch. I must enjoy this kind of madness, because I found myself a husband with a grip of siblings, and his family is growing exponentially before our eyes.

Is your family large? Are you a member of a growing empire? Here are some ways to tell.

Do you have tons of relatives? These 15 Ways to Know You Come from a Big Family might look familiar!

1. The oldest sibling can be mistaken for the youngest sibling’s parent, and if you do the math, it’s not that ridiculous.

2. There is no such thing as a small wedding. Even when the bride and groom go three states away to get hitched, there are 200 guests.

3. Everyone remembers “that coat.” You know, the one that was worn for 7 years, by at least 4 children.

4. There is always someone available to talk to, and there is always at least one feud in the works.

5. Sometimes people have to eat in shifts.

6. It is possible to be the same age as your aunts and uncles, and to have nieces and nephews older than you.

7. There is a shower schedule, and hair and makeup are done in the dining room.

8. For a few years, there is a potluck of babies. Everyone brings one, and they get passed around and shared with the group. No baby eating, though. Just nibbling on a few toes.

9. When those babies grow up, and are old enough to join the big kids in the basement or outside, a new crop of babies appears.

10. Some family members move away and aren’t seen as frequently, but when everyone comes together, it’s like no time has passed, and the teasing picks up right where it left off.

11. A small gathering is still 55 people.

12. A family member’s new boyfriend can spend 30 minutes at the table before everyone realizes he’s not related.

13. Odd traits like 6 foot tall middle schoolers or freaky monkey toes are normalized because a bunch of family members can also hold a pencil with their feet or touch the ceiling with their head.

14. When leaving, there is absolutely no way to keep track of the number of goodbyes, resulting in some people getting double hugs and others getting zero hugs.

15. You are rarely called your actual name on the first try; rather, a string of siblings or cousins names come first. The angrier the mother or grandmother, the more names that precede the correct one.

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89 thoughts on “15 Ways To Know You Might Be From A Big Family

      1. Only if they were nice. Mine never calls me or tells me about events. All 36 of them. I blame my mom for sewing lies about me.

  1. I am actually kind of jealous! I always wished for a big family, but alas it was not in the cards. When I watch Parenthood, I secretly desire to join the Braverman clan…maybe your family can adopt me instead…after all, what is one more at this point?! πŸ˜‰

    1. Those crazy Bravermans ARE an awesome group. We aren’t as exciting, I’m afraid, but you are welcome to join us anyway!!

  2. It was always my dream to have a big family. I have one sister (with no kids) and like four cousins (who are waay older than me and who I never saw growing up). My husband only has two sisters and only one of them has kids, so everything you just described is also foreign to my girls. We keep telling them they each will need to have at least five kids one day. I can only imagine how much fun it is when you all get together! But then again…I get to stay in my jammies all day on Christmas and take naps. πŸ˜‰

  3. I’m making our four kids read this. They are so tired of the shower schedule/hair styling in the dining room, they are vowing to never have kids of their own. Of course this would mean no grandchildren for me, the woman who has put up with the four-kid chaos FOR LOTS OF GRANDCHILDREN!

    1. They’ll change their minds when they realize as the parents they get to make the shower schedule. Don’t worry…you’ll get those grandbabies you so deserve!

    1. Come on over! I have a cousin who is the youngest of seven and his fiance is the youngest of seven. Like the total opposite of you and your husband, huh?

  4. I am so glad I am part of this crazy family. Every item on the list brought a smile and a memory! Thank you Amy – I love your blog!

  5. My former MIL was one of 19. By the same parents! I never did meet all his surviving aunts and uncles…never mind the cousins. And at that point, just about everybody is a cousin.

  6. My husband is the youngest of eight, so I can totally relate to this. He has two sisters he is super close to because they practically raised him. My boys have 30 cousins on that side. Every time there is a new baby, they just lay it on the dinning room table at family dinner so everyone can ooh and ahh. The first great grandchild was just born last weekend!


  8. My mom’s side of the family has nine kids and a crazy amount of offspring. You are so right, there is no such thing as a small, intimate wedding. If there were, heads would roll because somebody wouldn’t have been invited.

  9. sounds about right!! #2 was true for our wedding! I have two kids starting the great-grandchild generation, but then my aunt just had an unexpected baby#4 so now my cousin is younger than my own kids. And now I am not only a victim of #15 but the assailant! Can’t call my kids or my siblings or cousins the right name when we are all together! thanks for sharing, enjoyed!

    1. I’m beginning to show #15 tenancies, too. I’ve even accidentally used the dog’s name before! Thank you for commenting!

  10. Loved this post! I come from a small family. There is only my brother and I and he never married so my children are the only grandkids. On my husband’s side, there are 5 of them and each of them had 2 or 3 kids, with the exception of 1 sister. So there are always a lot of cousins around during family gatherings and the age ranges from college to age 1. All the cousins are very close and get along really well – I love what a special relationship they all have!

  11. I was from 12 people, it been a bitch! Oh, I caught the kids , the First kids, I took care of the kids! While my mother’ too, breakfast, lunch. and dinner,and the laundry ! And everyone had a job, my morther let the parade!

  12. I am the oldest of 12, eight girls and four boys. My husband is the youngest of 3. Talk about a clash of the worlds! But, my siblings all fell in love with my husband and he was their “go-to guy” for being picked up and swung around every single time he walked in the door. I was almost 19 when we got married. ALL of my sisters were in the wedding…..well, all of the ones who were born BEFORE my wedding!

    All 15 of these comments are true about large families. When a large group of us were in trouble for one offense or another my dad would yell out the names down the list. Since it would take awhile to get to the correct person in trouble, it usually meant that there was plenty of time to escape and not have to be reprimanded!

    All in all, I would never trade my big family for anything!

    1. I’m from 11 kids and my husband is also from 3. He was overwhelmed the first couple times he came around!! Lol!

  13. Here are a couple more to add to the list.
    – “What number are you?” from teachers and other people who knew the family.
    – Have some of the same teachers as your dad and his siblings.

    My Dad was one of 12 and I attended the same school system as all 12. The youngest had not graduated from high school when I started school. On more than one occasion had to explain I was the next generation!

  14. Ha! All of these are truth, truth, truth. I’m the oldest of ten, my dad is one of thirteen, and my mom is one of five. I have seventy cousins on one side. My husband also has a big family. You don’t know a party until fifty people who are related are drinking and trying to tell the same story. Love it.

  15. Mom would always say: Anthony, Dede, Joan, Alice, Paul, Therese, Kathy, Carolyn, Doug, before saying the last Melanie. (10 of us) As a former teacher and mother of five, I did the same thing. Big families are great!

  16. I’m number 13 of 16! LOVE my big family and wouldn’t trade it for the world! My parents just had their 59th
    grandchild born today. My baby brother is 21 and has nieces and nephews older than him.

  17. I’m the third oldest outta 11 kids plus mom had 2 misses! I have 62 first cousins on my dads side and 82 first on my moms side. My parents have 42 grand kids and still have 3 without kids. There are no divorces in my family tree until you get to my generation. I love it!

  18. This is great! I’m the oldest of 13 and at 20 years older than the youngest I can testify to the truth of the first!! My dad was one of two and he and his brother gave my grandparents 18 grandkids, only 6 of whom have kids yet and we’re expecting great grandkid #17 in February. We’re hosting Thanksgiving at the church because my parent’s house is shrinking! Thanks for the laugh and memories. πŸ™‚

  19. I am the oldest of 4, my husband is the middle of 7. We have 3 biological kids and we are growing our family by adoption. So far we’ve adopted 15 (all are still at home) and I can so relate to all 15 of these (even before we adopted our kids). We already used the church’s fellowship hall for get togethers. I look forward to the mass amount of grandkids (we already have 9). Our kids are from 34 – 2 and grandkids from 12 – 7. Love love larger than typical families. What a great list!!

    1. Wow, Vickie! God bless you and your gigantic family! You deserve a church hall full of grandkids for all of your hard work.

  20. When I would spend the night with a friend from school with a much smaller family. I was always amazed that they would serve dinner in serving bowls or on platters (we just put the pots on the table). And I was really thrown back when they would pass around a small plate with like 5 or 6 slices of bread on it (we would pass around a whole loaf or two of bread at the table).

  21. I’m one of 12 …. my mom would write our “number” (birth order) on our clothes with a permanent marker. She did 5 loads of laundry a day and our “piles” were on the dining room table. When your pile fell over, it was time to put your clothes away. We also went through 3 gallons of milk a day, and my parents joked that they put the local grocer’s children through college. My children love being around the 30+ cousins and we are expecting four more next year πŸ™‚

  22. I’m the youngest of 8 (my oldest brother was 18 and my oldest sister 17 when I was born.) Six months after I was born, my brother joined the navy and my sister joined the convent – my dad joked he should have another if he could get 2 more to move out! LOL My niece is 4.5 years younger than me and my next oldest sister is 5 years older (my brother is only 3 years older.) My oldest sister (no longer a nun!) has been mistaken for my mom on more than one occasion and her daughter and I mistaken for sisters when we were younger. My dad married a widow with 2 kids after my mom died when I was 14, so now there were 10 kids – one four months older than me and one 20 months younger than me. We also have so many birthdays in common (which you can’t help with only 365 days in a year) including a brother and a sister 3 years apart to the day (with one sister in between!) My Nana was a seamstress and she made all the daughters look-alike dresses in different sizes. As the youngest, I got stuck wearing that damn dress *forever* and so it seems like in all the family gathering pictures I never changed my clothes! My oldest niece also wore it, but as dress-up clothes by that time. All the girls in our family are Mary…. something so my dad would just go down the “Litany of the Saints” until he got to my name. With my brothers, he only had to get through the Apostles! So far this year, there are already 25 people coming to Thanksgiving Dinner, but 10 haven’t replied yet. Last year I think there were 37 and that was a “small” year because a bunch went to their in-laws. My poor husband is one of TWO and after 20 years, I think he’s still a little freaked out at all the hubbub and commotion because his parents’ holidays are much more… sedate!

  23. I suddenly feel sad for all the single children out there. I know too many. I’m one of 2 – but I am pregnant with our 5th.
    Though we might not have any more after this one – I’m so glad that we have our ‘almost’ large family.

    1. Congratulations on your pregnancy! It sounds like many of those only children marry into large families, so they get the crazy experience, just later in life!

  24. I’m the oldest of ten and can relate to all of this! I love, love, love our large family and feel so blessed to have had the wonderful example of our parents and the close and happy family we still have. My husband is the eighth of ten kids. Our four sons have about seventy first cousins counting both sides. Hard to keep track of the exact count as they’re still coming. I thought that was an impressive number of first cousins until I read Michelle Crooker’s post above. She’smorethangot them

  25. I’m the oldest of ten and can relate to all of this! I love, love, love our large family and feel so blessed to have had the wonderful example of our parents and the close and happy family we still have. My husband is the eighth of ten kids. Our four sons have about seventy first cousins counting both sides. Hard to keep track of the exact count as they’re still coming. I thought that was an impressive number of first cousins until I read Michelle Crooker’s post above. She’s more than got them doubled!

    1. So many of the comments on this post have made me realize my family is actually adorably small. There are some seriously gigantic families out there!

  26. My daddy was one of 12. I had 27 first cousins, last time I counted. When my mama’s kids, grandkids and spouses, and great-grandkids gather, there are 54 of us, and she started out with just four children. We took seriously the command to “be fruitful and multiply”.

  27. I am the oldest of 19 children all by the same mom & dad. There were so many large families when I grew up, that it was not a big deal to us. There was a family of 21 north of where we lived. I always am attracted to members of large families, even when I don’t know they are from a large family. There is just something about our lifestyle that gives it away. Mom & dad are gone now, but every one of those comments above hits home with me. Love it!!!

  28. I only have 3 siblings, but my mom is one of 6. They were born 6 years and 10 months apart from the oldest to the youngest, with my mom and her next youngest sister exactly a year apart. There aren’t more than a few years between any of the grandkids and the youngest grandchild is 2 days younger than the oldest great-grandchild.

  29. I came from a family of seven and was usually called whatever your name is when my Mom finally got frustrated from trying. Sad note- being the youngest also means that my DAd started forgetting who I was first when his Dementia started. Last month he said he only had four kids.

  30. Every blogger has a “you know you are ___________ if” list, but the only thing that wasn’t spot on with my family is the height, our tallest is freakishly tall at 6’2! We even have crazy long monkey toes that grip and pick up! But if I could add one, “You never actually get to sit at the adult table. They just add another kid’s table”

  31. Only 5 kids for my family but there is only five years between myself and the youngest. I am the oldest. The majority of that is true and I find it weird if there is not some sort of yelling going on in the house at any given time. Plus we can all sleep through anything at any given time. That includes the earthquake that shakes the house or the thunder and lightening going nonstop around the house. Even slept through a wind storm that toppled a huge pine tree onto our neighbor’s house. By the time was twelve I was the babysitter for my siblings and we quickly learned that the secret to a peaceful day while mom and dad were at work was to leave an even number of children home at any given time. An odd number meant someone called their jobs in tears and everyone got the punishment. Another fun fact about a big family. Even if you miraculously find yourself by yourself for a few hours, everyone knows who you belong to because all your siblings look like you. Or you can do what my sister and I do and play the twin game. We are five years apart and people still think we’re twins.

  32. 24 first cousins may impress some – but there were 104 grandchildren on my Mom’s side of the family. I swear it’s true. Family reunions are a sight to behold. When I took my husband to his first reunion he asked why the whole town had showed up!

  33. I am from a family of 13 and we are enjoying your list through a fb posting still today! My parents have been married 73 years this November 16th, and there are now 164 of us through five generations. And your list is soooo true!!

  34. I am an only child, but I have 5 children (and counting). So true about running through all the names…especially the angrier I get, lol. My oldest son a year or so ago (he was about 4 at the time I think) got so excited one afternoon when his daddy told him not to jump off the swing set. He looked up, with this big grin on his face and says, “Good job Daddy! You called me by my right name!” We all started laughing, and the fact that he was in trouble for jumping off the swing set was completely forgotten.

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